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Lecture: Stream of Consciousness: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a literature class. Professor: Okay. The type of novel that was hugely popular in the 19th century was characterized by a linear narrative, a strong storyline, and characters whose daily lives were depicted down to the last realistic detail. This type of novel was generally told by an all knowing narrator who served as a stand in for the author and functioned more as a storyteller than as a character. Everything that happens in the story is told to us from the outside by the narrator who acts as an interpreter between the imaginary world of the novel and the reader. But around 1910, novels began to undergo a radical and profound transformation. The highly descriptive novels of the 19th century were steadily being displaced by a new kind of literature that tried to convey reality, less by telling than by showing. You see, around this period, an important new movement, known as modernism, was taking root. And the principles associated with it were influencing music, painting, and of course, literature. Modernism, as its name suggests, wanted to be associated with a rapidly changing society of 20th century Europe. You see, people weren't satisfied with the traditional tastes and values of the 19th century. Perhaps the most important literary innovation proposed by modernism was the stream of consciousness novel. The term stream of consciousness didn't start out as a literary term. It was actually borrowed from psychology. Remember at this time, psychology was a new science and growing in popularity. So there was a spreading interest in understanding how the human mind works. The term first appeared in the writings of the American philosopher and psychologist William James, who talked about human consciousness as a sequence of states of mind, a continuous stream of changing moods, feelings, and thoughts that come and go. We all know how unpredictable the mind can be. One minute we may be contemplating the beauty of a sunset, the next we remember we need to stop at the store to pick up bread. So imagine a literature that wants to narrate a story through the flow of thought of the characters, this meant novels became very fragmented. Many of these modernist novels were formless and without chronology. They didn't have a beginning, middle and end. So no coherent structure and in some cases, not even grammar or punctuation. Some authors felt if they were going to overturn established literary conventions, why obey grammar. Sentences became incomplete. But as we've been saying, the flow of thought doesn't really follow any rules, and is often incoherent. And that's exactly what the new literature was trying to capture. Ok. So unlike earlier novels in which events were the motor of the story, these new novel barely relied on plot. Instead, there were impressions, memories, and flashbacks, and the reader had to connect the dots. The narrators ... narrators are still there to present the information, but they don't necessarily interpret it for the reader. That's not the narrator's role in modernist novels. So there's the lack of coherent structure and strong plot, but also the limited role of the narrator can make these novels difficult to read. The fact is that the reader does have to be more active. Also, the language changed. Instead of a formal polish language we used in earlier novels, author started writing using the kind of private language we use when we talk to ourselves. That's why stream of consciousness is often compared to a literary technique called interior monologue. It's a device often used in drama. For example, Shakespeare's plays, which are full of characters who speak aloud to themselves, revealing their private thoughts. But they do it in language that's coherent and orderly and even rhymes. Okay, so we're going to be reading parts of James Joyce's novel Ulysses. And one of the things I want you to focus on while you're reading this novel, in addition to the other elements we discussed, is the element of time. And you'll notice that in Ulysses, the characters experience time subjectively. I mean time seems to be stretched out, so one moment can be explored very deeply. This allows Joyce to describe all the things the character is thinking about at one time. So this is different than one o'clock is keeping time and a minute seems to go by very quickly.